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The Night of the Blue Dress
by Kathy Warnes



That day, so long ago, that I rushed home from school to ask my mother for the blue dress knowing that I would sell my brothers and sisters to the Russians just to own it.

There was going to be a special program at church Saturday night, and Don the Dreamboat was taking me. I wanted to look as beautiful on the outside as I felt on the inside when he looked at me. I was convinced I needed that special blue dress to show him how pretty I could be on the outside.

I talked to my mother: "I won't collect my allowance for the next year. I'll scrub floors and do dishes for six months without complaining. I'll make all of the beds."

My mother looked worried: "Couldn't you get a baby-sitting job for tonight or tomorrow night?" she asked. "We can’t afford a new dress just now.”

I ran to my bedroom and threw myself on the bed. It was too late to get a baby-sitting job. I knew that nice, decent, mature teenage girls shouldn't feel soppingly sorry for themselves, but I couldn't help it. I wanted that blue dress so badly that I could feel its soft blue folds gliding over my hips and the spidery white lace prickling my neck and wrists.

The next night after school, I walked into my bedroom and there, spread out on the bed, was THE BLUE dress. It was a soft blue with a contrasting deeper navy skirt and a wide white collar and white cuffs that were so stylish then.
 I ran out to the kitchen and hugged my Mom. "I don't know how you did it, but thank you - a million times!"

On Saturday afternoon I began getting ready, and by the time evening came there was a line of six brothers and sisters outside the bathroom door, pacing the floor and demanding to be let in. I didn't care. I was having a long, leisurely soak, polishing my nails, and curling my hair. After all, Don was coming at 7 and it was 5:30 already. Instant beauty takes time!

I had to take extra pains with my beauty routine because Don's sister Gail and her date were coming with us, and she was known in our gang as a very sharp dresser. Finally, my overhaul was finished, and I swept into the living room. Dad was reading the paper and Mom was watching T.V. "How do I look?" I asked.

"You look beautiful," my Dad said.

"You look very nice," Mom said. Her eyes lingered on my dress and I thought I saw a frown pucker her forehead.

The doorbell rang, and like a princess I eased it open, the cheers of my invisible subjects ringing in my ears. Don stared at me with a dazzled look in his eyes. Behind him were Gail and her date. I invited them inside.

"That's a pretty dress," Don said.

Gail's glance scratched over me like a garden rake through dry soil. "That is a pretty dress," she said. "Too bad I didn't like the color or I would have kept it for myself." 

"What do you mean?" I asked her.

"I mean that I put that dress and lots of other things in the church 'Clothes Tree.' You know, where everyone puts clothes that they don't need anymore and the church gives them away or sells them cheap.Ӊ۬

My mind groped for someone to blame. I hated Gail. I hated Don because I wanted to look beautiful for him, but most of all I hated my Mom. How could she buy a dress from the church "Clothes Tree," for me, especially this particular dress?
 Gail's smirk told me she’d never forget that my dress had been her dress.

Then Mom hurried up to me. She thrust a small, beaded purse in my hands that had belonged to my grandmother. "Here, you forgot your purse," she said.

I gulped. This was her most prized purse; the one she saved for special occasions. The bitter words and the resentment melted away. "Thanks for everything, Mom," I said, managing a wobbly smile.

I held my head high, swept over to Don, and put my arm through his. "Let's go," I said, as my imaginary subjects gave me a standing ovation.

© 2012 Kathy Warnes.



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About the Author

Kathy Warnes is a historian and freelance writer from Michigan. She writes a maritime history blog, Maritime Moments, a history blog Searching Historical Horizons, and a music blog Music in Middle C. She has a history website for kids and grown up kids called Discovering Fun History in Clio's Cave at discoverfunhistory.webs.com.




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